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FCW : May 15, 2014
Cloud brokers could ease acquisition burden COULD THIRD-PARTY “cloud brokers” ease the migra- tion to the cloud? The jury is still out, but more and more experts are saying this acquisition approach could be just what many organizations need to become more sophisti- cated users of the technology. The idea of a cloud broker is to provide an organiza- tion with a single point of contact who can give them access to cloud services from multiple sources. To date, most agencies have not needed such services, because their initial forays into the cloud typically involved one vendor, such as a Software-as -a -Service agreement with an application provider. But as agencies seek to migrate more of their in- frastructure to the cloud—not just applications, but also servers, networks and storage—they might find it helpful to have a business partner who can pull all those pieces together for them. It is the same model used by consumers in other fields, such as finance and insurance. The model exists “because sometimes consumers need help just navigat- ing all the options and the complexity of the consump- tion,” said Benoit Lheureux, vice president of research at Gartner, speaking in a recent Gartner webcast. “Cloud services are no different.” The Defense Department has adopted the cloud bro- ker model in a big way. In June 2013, the department designated the Defense Information Systems Agency as its Enterprise Cloud Service Broker. That means all DOD users must go through DISA to obtain commercial cloud services for low-impact data and missions, unless they get a waiver. As of the end of 2013, DISA has received more than 40 requests had been submitted for cloud services, with around a dozen customers matched to potential providers. On the civilian side, the General Services Adminis- tration has been working on cloud broker pilot with several agencies, including the Department of Home- land Security. GSA began testing the waters with a request for infor- mation about cloud brokerages in June 2012, eventually receiving 81 responses from a mix of large, mid-sized and small businesses. Just less than 80 percent of them favored the idea, with only 12 percent against it. If the GSA pilot proves viable, GSA expects to de- velop a full concept for operations and a business case to support a cloud broker acquisition. Another option is for GSA itself to act as a cloud broker. The results of that pilot have not been released, but in December, Mark Day, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the GSA’s Integrated Technology Service, told the Federal Cloud Computing Summit in December that a cloud broker could address a “whole set of layers” of the acquisition process. The question, he said, is which functions a broker could provide most efficiently for government – and in which cases a broker could add value and which it might just be an added cost. Gartner’s research has found that a cloud broker makes the most sense when an organization is looking to aggregate a lot of different services, Lheureux said. In that situation, a broker can go a long way toward easing the complexity of a cloud project. Additionally, a broker might provide professional services that sup- port a cloud procurement, such as business process management, he said. • GET THE FULL REPORT ONLINE AT: FCW.com/Cloud2014 Get More Online... Other Cloud 2014 Report Articles Agencies deepen investments in cloud solutions Hybrid model key to the future of cloud Cloud security initiatives gain momentum 2014: A turning point for FedRAMP SPONSORED REPORT: SNAPSHOT THE CLOUD IN 2014
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